Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed a panel that will help identify the state's health providers who are prescribing a suspicious amount of pain pills. The move is to help combat the prescription-pill abuse in Kentucky.
"The panel is made up of four practicing physicians, including a psychiatrist, a pain-management specialist and an oncologist; three pharmacists; an advance-practice registered nurse; a dentist; a substance-abuse and mental-health professional from the University of Kentucky faculty; and a representative of community mental-health centers, which provide drug treatment," reports Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The inclusion of an APRN is in keeping with a request from the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives. "We believe that the addition of APRNs who are prescribing controlled substances for different populations will be very helpful ... in creating guidelines for generally accepted practices," said Julianne Ewen, president of the 2,049-member coalition.
The council will use the state's prescription-monitoring system — known as KASPER — that is already in place and will work with the state's health-care licensing boards and law enforcement to establish acceptable prescribing practices. "For instance, it may be routine for a cancer doctor to write 50 prescriptions for pain pills in a month, but that would be very high for a dentist," Estep reports.
The work of the panel could be used by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to track unusual activity through KASPER. The cabinet would then notify the applicable licensing boards of the activity. (Read more)
Prescription pill abuse has been a growing concern in Kentucky and nationwide, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently calling the problem "an epidemic." On Friday, police arrested three people that were allegedly part of a larger drug ring that trucked more than 50,000 pain pills into Pike County alone last year. The pills came from Michigan. "Many people in Eastern Kentucky have relatives in Michigan because people moved from Appalachia decades ago to look for work in Midwest factories," Estep reports. "People work through those family connections to bring drugs to Kentucky after obtaining pills in Michigan through large-scale 'doctor shopping.'" (Read more)